I-95 Collapse: What to Know

by Peter Candia
I-95 Collapse

A chunk of I-95 running through Northeast Philadelphia collapsed early Sunday morning following a vehicle below it allegedly catching fire. 

Commuters should expect to take different routes for the immediate future—with many expecting the portion of highway to be closed for some time. The entire stretch of the highway, spanning from Woodhaven Road in Northeast Philadelphia to Aramingo Avenue in the Port Richmond area, has been closed off, causing significant disruptions to traffic. Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro said in a statement that the repairs are expected to take months. 

Shapiro also announced his intention to declare a state of emergency in order to expedite the release of federal aid. The PA Governor is expected to sign the declaration Monday, which will open up access to federal funds. Additionally, President Biden has been briefed on the collapse and the White House remains in contact with Shapiro as well as Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. 

In the early hours of Monday morning, even before the sun had risen and commuters had started searching for alternate routes to their intended destinations, large construction equipment was observed removing debris from the northbound lanes of I-95. The highway remains closed in both directions as officials investigate the cause of the disaster. 

What Caused the Fire?

According to the authorities’ initial hypothesis, a truck became engulfed in flames while positioned underneath the highway overpass. Subsequently, the fire extended to the elevated lanes situated above. The intense heat from the fire resulted in the warping and liquefaction of the lanes, ultimately leading to sections collapsing onto the ground.

Governor Shapiro stated that the tanker at the root of the explosion might have been carrying petroleum-based fuel. This statement was later confirmed by officials who uncovered that the tanker was transporting around 8,500 gallons of 87-octane fuel.

The driver’s whereabouts are still unknown, and whether he was in the truck during the explosion or fled the scene for safety remains a mystery.

What Is Affected?

Some runoff from the explosion is said to have leaked into the nearby waterway, but for residents of the area, drinking water is not affected, according to the Philadelphia Water Department. 

The collapsed portion of highway is said to see nearly 160,000 vehicles a day—alternate routes are already in the works. Local residents should expect delayed bus and trash routes for the coming days. 

The Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) announced additional trains and staff following the collapse. With I-95 closed throughout a significant portion, SEPTA trains are expected to see an influx of new riders for the time being. 

“We’re adding capacity on the Trenton, West Trenton and Fox Chase lines. That means additional cars on scheduled trains. We’re going to bus the Cynwyd Lines so that we can repurpose equipment and personnel and get them over to the Trenton Line,” said SEPTA CEO Leslie S. Richards in a statement. 

The full details of the expanded SEPTA services can be found here.

About the Author/s

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Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.

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